Blogging from A to Z, the letter Z.

Virtues and views and changes in the definition of feelings over time.

Yesterday we hiked from North Beach towards Cape George and walked 2/3 of the way. My phone welcomed me to Canada! We were not in Canada, but I think the Vancouver Island cell towers took over.

We were paralleled by a sailboat race. The very low tide was at 1:00 pm, so there were other hikers, picking up the beach glass. I found my first marble! There was a marble factory and you can still find the marbles, some perfect, on glass beach. I gave mine to my friend and then he found a cat’s eye and gave it to me.

The sailboats were going with the tide with the wind behind them and spinnakers up! Not in my photograph, at that point they were dipping south of Protection Island. We started back a little before 1:00 and watched the tide turn. The sailboats returned as well.

What does zoned mean to you? The sailboats were in the zone, with the wind behind and the tide helping. A long race and beautiful…..and this is my last letter for the A to Z.


Y for yielding in Blogging from A to Z.

Again, the definition changes, from Webster 1913 to the present.

Webster 1913: yielding

Inclined to give way, or comply; flexible; compliant; accommodating; as, a yielding temper.

Yielding and paying Law, the initial words of that clause in leases in which the rent to be paid by the lessee is mentioned and reserved. Burrill.

Syn. — Obsequious; attentive. — Yielding, Obsequious, Attentive. In many cases a man may be attentive or yielding in a high degree without any sacrifice of his dignity; but he who is obsequious seeks to gain favor by excessive and mean compliances for some selfish end.

— Yield”ing*ly, adv. — Yield”ing*ness, n. is different:


1. inclined to give in; submissive; compliant:
a timid, yielding man.

2. tending to give way, especially under pressure; flexible; supple; pliable:
a yielding mattress.

3. (of a crop, soil, etc.) producing a yield; productive.

Crop yields are important! But is compliance or giving in, a feeling of yielding, something I am comfortable with? What about yielding to love or to grief or to joy?

Today’s poem:


I am yielding to my family
to no more contact

though I think they see me
as stubborn angry argumentative

they do not love me as I am
they want a different person

who acceeds and yields to their ideals
I am the villain who won’t yield

and yet I yield
I send them love

I send them joy and peace
one said if you make me choose

I won’t choose you
pressure, sorrow, grief

acceptance: I will miss them
I do not know if they

miss me


I took the photograph at the Women’s March in Port Townsend. When should we yield? When should we fight? When should we reach out for mutual understanding?




The letter X in Blogging from A to Z.

X for xerotic, which means x-rated erotic…

No, just kidding. Xerotic means very very dry skin or dry eyes and it’s a medical term. We do have xerosis as a medical term. As we get older our skin gets drier. One of my dermatologist friends says that we lose our bubble wrap: the layer of fat padding the skin thins until our hands bruise with normal daily activity.

Have you felt xerotic? This has been a long week in clinic and I am feeling tired and sad for some of my patients. My spring of ideas for healing is dry at the moment and I need to rest. I am going on a beach walk today. I need healing too, to be at an oasis, to be nurtured and cared for. Maybe xerotic is not used that way but it could be.

Two more letters and one more day.

I took the photograph on a hike at Joshua Tree in 2009.


W for wisdom in Blogging from A to Z, Virtues and views.

Wisdom is the last of the four cardinal virtues held in high esteem by the Greeks and Romans, along with prudence, temperance and fortitude. These were joined with the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity to make Seven. That list differs from the list to balance the 7 Sins. And I am more interested in the emotions then whether they are virtues or sins.

I am thinking about wisdom and what it means to me, and whether I feel wise. I have knowledge and information that I can access in my memory in clinic. Does that make me feel wise? It isn’t the amount of information that defines wisdom for me: it is whether I can communicate with my patient in a way that is mutually beneficial. Do I understand their goals and their questions and is my information or style of imparting it useful to them? Does it improve their health? Sometimes understanding what the question is or what lies behind it is more important than medicine.

And again, there is a change from Webster 1913 to the present writes about scholarly information or wise sayings. Webster 1913 talks about the use of knowledge and wise judgements. It is not the amount of knowledge but the ability to communicate and make use of it. To me wisdom is closer to Webster 1913 than to the present definition on

From Webster 1913 on, wisdom:

1. The quality of being wise; knowledge, and the capacity to make due use of it; knowledge of the best ends and the best means; discernment and judgment; discretion; sagacity; skill; dexterity.

We speak also not in wise words of man’s wisdom, but in the doctrine of the spirit. Wyclif (1 Cor. ii. 13).

Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding. Job xxviii. 28.

It is hoped that our rulers will act with dignity and wisdom that they will yield everything to reason, and refuse everything to force. Ames.

Common sense in an uncommon degree is what the world calls wisdom. Coleridge.

2. The results of wise judgments; scientific or practical truth; acquired knowledge; erudition.

Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. Acts vii. 22.


1. the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.
2. scholarly knowledge or learning:
the wisdom of the schools.
3. wise sayings or teachings; precepts.
4. a wise act or saying.
5. (initial capital letter) Douay Bible. Wisdom of Solomon.

I am submitting the photograph to Thursday Doors. I took this in my neighborhood yesterday. I did not even see the door until I looked at the result….


V is for vulnerable, in Virtues and views, Blogging from A to Z.

Is feeling vulnerable a virtue or a vice?

I don’t think feeling vulnerable is either a virtue or a vice. It’s a feeling. It is a feeling that our society puts pressure on adults, particularly males, not to feel. Or not to admit.

I read Robert Johnson, PhD, Owning our own shadow. He asks what three aspects of ourselves we are most proud of. For me, at that time, the triad was toughness, smarts and independent. He says that the opposite, or shadow, of that triad, is what we are most afraid of….

….oh, and he had me there. I look in my mirror and see someone smart, tough, independent, and terrified of being vulnerable.

I am much less terrified now. I am a physician: everyone is sick sometimes, vulnerable sometimes, everyone does dumb things sometimes, and dependence will come as well as death. I needed to bring that fear out of the shadow and make friends with it. Bringing those shadows forward is hard work! I don’t want to! But I can and I like to work and I am good at working. Small steps daily on a path with love and thought and care….. vulnerable


1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon:
a vulnerable part of the body.

2. open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc.:
an argument vulnerable to refutation; He is vulnerable to bribery.

3. (of a place) open to assault; difficult to defend:
a vulnerable bridge.

4. Bridge. having won one of the games of a rubber.

So we ALL fall under the first definition! ALL OF US!

Our culture derides and conflates vulnerability with weakness sometimes. Don’t let it. Stand up. Speak out. Do not let fear stop us….


The letter U in virtues and views.

U for ugly.

Is ugly a feeling? Have you felt ugly? Is that a virtue or a vice? Why? If vanity is a vice, then is feeling ugly a virtue? Is beauty virtuous and ugliness the opposite, an indication of evil?

From ugly

adjective, uglier, ugliest.
1. very unattractive or unpleasant to look at; offensive to the sense of beauty; displeasing in appearance.
2. disagreeable; unpleasant; objectionable:
ugly tricks; ugly discords.
3. morally revolting:
ugly crime.
4. threatening trouble or danger:
ugly symptoms.
5. mean; hostile; quarrelsome:
an ugly mood; an ugly frame of mind.
6. (especially of natural phenomena) unpleasant or dangerous:
ugly weather; an ugly sea.

I wrote the following poem before 2009, when I was thinking that there are people that I think are just beautiful, but it has nothing to do with surface beauty. It has to do with love and trust. The makeup books in the poem are Face Forward and Making Faces, by Kevin Aucion.


Beauty is not on the surface in people

People that I love are beautiful to me
They shine
It doesn’t matter how they look
In fact, scars make them more real
More human
Intimacy is knowing what this scar is from
And that
Knowing their stories
That they trust me to tell me
People that I love are beautiful

I have been wearing makeup
I never cared before really
Until a book by an artist
Showed me his vision
The beauty that he sees in everyone
I call it my paint by numbers makeup book
Because he is a true artist
Who believes that art is for everyone
And so he includes instructions for each picture
So that I too can dabble in his art

I will wear makeup at my family summer lake
I do not think my family will approve
Nor do I think they will understand
They may comment
I will say that I am trying to catch a new man
This will confirm their disapproval
I will break the rules by wearing makeup
Which is exactly the point
But I am also celebrating beauty
The beauty that the Beloved sees
In everyone


I took the photograph in 2014 from a train….sometimes we talk about ugly weather, but watching the land and weather change from the train was glorious. I hope you feel beauty in your life.


Temperance: for Blogging from A to Z, the letter T. What does temperance mean to you? Do you ever say “I feel temperate.” Do you call someone else temperate? Is it a virtue to you?

Temperance is one of the four Cardinal Virtues which go back to the Greeks, Aristotle and Plato. But it meant self control then, not abstinence from liquor. Self control, self-restraint, moderation…I think we could still value that but our culture of drama and advertising and self-promotion and stardom doesn’t very much. temperance


1.moderation or self-restraint in action, statement, etc.; self-control.

2.habitual moderation in the indulgence of a natural appetite or passion, especially in the use of alcoholic liquors. abstinence from alcoholic liquors.

But… let’s look at the word origin:

Word Origin and History for temperance

n. mid-14c., “self-restraint, moderation,” from Anglo-French temperaunce (mid-13c.), from Latin temperantia “moderation,” from temperans, present participle of temperare “to moderate” (see temper ). Latin temperantia was used by Cicero to translate Greek sophrosyne “moderation.” In English, temperance was used to render Latin continentia or abstinentia, specifically in reference to drinking alcohol and eating; hence by early 1800s it came to mean “abstinence from alcoholic drink.”

Webster 1913 from temperance

1. Habitual moderation in regard to the indulgence of the natural appetites and passions; restrained or moderate indulgence; moderation; as, temperance in eating and drinking; temperance in the indulgence of joy or mirth; specifically, moderation, and sometimes abstinence, in respect to using intoxicating liquors.

2. Moderation of passion; patience; calmness; sedateness.
[R.] “A gentleman of all temperance.” Shak.

He calmed his wrath with goodly temperance. Spenser.

3. State with regard to heat or cold; temperature.
[Obs.] “Tender and delicate temperance.” Shak.

Temperance society, an association formed for the purpose of diminishing or stopping the use of alcoholic liquors as a beverage.

I want to take words back and use them again and expand them back to previous meanings. Why is Webster 1913 more elaborate and subtle in definitions than Have you used the word temperate? Try it today…I will be temperate in my emotions, temperate in eating, temperate when driving…what will you be temperate about today?

I took the photograph from Marrowstone Island… the colors used to paint the sky are not temperate at all, are they?



This is for Virtues and views, Blogging from A to Z, the letter S.

There is more than one feeling that the fog could raise: shy, sneaky, subtle, sleepy. Scary if I am in a sailboat and the fog slides off Marrowstone Island and reaches fingers towards my boat. If I am smart, I am prepared with charts and radio and GPS and radar and I know that the ferry comes through and I will stay out of it’s way.

From shy.

1. bashful; retiring.

2. easily frightened away; timid.

3.suspicious; distrustful:
I am a bit shy of that sort of person.

4. reluctant; wary.

5. deficient: shy of funds.

6. scant; short of a full amount or number:
still a few dollars shy of our goal; an inch shy of being six feet.

7.(in poker) indebted to the pot.

Yet these all seem negative. Can’t shy be a positive feeling? From and Webster 1913:

The embarrassed look of shy distress
And maidenly shamefacedness.

That isn’t what I want either, that women should be shy and retiring.

No, I am thinking of the shy delight and mystery of the fog lying over Marrowstone Island while it’s clear on the water. And wondering shyly if the fog will expand as the tendrils reach down to the water… or will it dissipate slowly to a bright clear sunny day?

My shy and secret delight at the beauty of the world.




For Blogging from A to Z: letter P in my virtues and views theme

I wrote this after a run in 2002. My mother had died of cancer in May of 2000 and I was struggling with grief and reevaluating my life. I really did sing to an eagle and lose track of the footprints I was following. At the end of the run I thought that I could be in grief, like the rocks and the water. Even if no one else was there, the waves and the rocks were still present, I could put my hands on them, the feeling of wet and cold grounded me and made me feel less lost.

Prayer to a rock

I went running
along the sunny beach
and ran into shadow

I kept running even though
there was beach with sun
because the shadow felt right
I ran towards a dead snag
Huge rocks were scattered on the beach

I stopped and placed my palms on one
And asked the rock to take away my grief
And then though, no, that wasn’t right
I asked the rock to lend me its strength during grief
I ran on

I took some comfort that there were
footprints in the sand
Someone had preceded me

I ran to the snag
an eagle sat on top
I sang America the Beautiful
to the eagle
and bowed
when I looked again
the eagle soared, wings spread, out of sight

I turned to run back
and now there were only my footprints
I thought I’d imagined the other set
in my grief
Then I passed the woman and her dog
who now were tracing my footsteps
I had passed them
I ran within my grief
I let it rise
and dissipate

I stopped twice more at rocks
One to change my prayer again
ask the rock to inspire me with its strength
Once to thank the rocks

I passed from the shadow
again into the light